Salmon, with its tender, delicate yet rich meat, only gets more succulent when you semipoach-semibake the fish. That may sound funny, but it’s pretty much what cooking en papillote is—which is as easy as wrapping the fillet in a parchment or foil packet with whatever flavors and accompaniments you like. Don’t let yourself get tired of salmon; once you’ve tried this method, you may never think of pan-frying or grilling it again.
14 ounces salmon fillet (from the center of the fish, so it is an even thickness both ends)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
8 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 or 3 thin lemon slices
2 or 3 thin orange slices
2 small bunches fresh dill, stemmed
½ cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. line a 1½-quart glass baking dish with 2 large sheets of aluminum foil or parchment paper; the foil or parchment should extend beyond 2 opposite sides of the dish by 6 inches each.
3. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the dish. Scatter the butter pieces all over the fish. Add the tomatoes halves, cut side down, and then arrange the lemon and orange slices on top. Cover the fish in a blanket of fresh dill. Pour the white wine over the top. Season generously with salt and pepper.
4. Take up the foil or parchment flaps on the sides of the pan and bring them together, creating a loose tent over the fish. Pinch the foil or fold the paper seams together to make a snug packet that’s airtight enough to hold together, but not too tight, so that steam can circulate around the fish and other ingredients while they cook. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork (after about 20 minutes, sneak open a fold to check every 3 to 4 minutes).
5. To serve, cut open the packet at the table; the escaping steam makes for a little presentation drama. Divide the fish between 2 plates and serve immediately.
Recipe from Small Gatherings by Jessica Strand (Egg & Dart Press, May 2013)